Looking to Learn Something New? Come to NJ!

March is a busy month in NJ for professional Development

Maximizing the Possibilities of a Connected World

NJECC 26th Annual NJ Educational Computing Cooperative Conference
Co-sponsored with NJ Dept. of Education and Montclair State University
MARCH 13, 2012
Keynote Speaker: JON LANDIS
Post-Conference Workshops:
March 14 & 15, 2012

Conference Booklet – http://www.njecc.org/site/files/2012registrationbrochure.pdf

From My Classroom to Yours

Digital Content in the Classroom
Create, Integrate, Assess!

Annual From My Classroom to Yours Conference
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 
on the campus of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Pomona, New Jersey

A teacher-to-teacher conference that offers teachers, technology coordinators, and educational administrators the opportunity to share “best practices” for teaching and learning.

First Educational Technology Symposium at West Essex March 17, 2012!

This special free event has been designed to educate K-12 teachers, administrators, media specialists, school boards and interested community members on the innovative use of technology in education.
For information, contact Raquel Williams at rwilliam@westex.org. To register, visit www.westex.org/wetech. To read the press release, click here.

The first ever NY/NJ Google Apps Summit!
This event will be held at the Kean University STEM building on March 22 and 23, 2012.

Register now as it is filling quickly. Come hear from Googlers, Google Certified Teachers and Google Apps Certified Trainers on how to deploy, implement and sustain Google Apps in your school. Take a look at the conference grid at https://sites.google.com/site/nynjgs12/conference-sessions and register here.

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Spontaneous Professional Development

Tomorrow at the NJECC monthly meeting I’m going to speak for a bit about “Spontaneous Professional Development”. With the budget cuts in NJ schools this past year, many educators don’t have funding for PD. Our meeting this month will be about how schools are dealing with the cuts, what types of PD their districts are spending money on and of course, how we can harness the power of our networks to bring in free professional development virtually.

I hope I don’t put myself right out of business.

Here’s the slides I will be sharing along with a list of the resources I will be talking about. (Please leave a comment if you have others to add as we would all benefit from your resources.)

Feel free to follow the #NJECC hashtag on Twitter during tomorrow morning’s meeting.

Feeling Googley at the NJECC Annual Conference

This will be the third year I present at the NJECC Annual Conference. This year’s theme is “Teacher as Learner” and Will Richardson is delivering the Keynote. The lineup of sessions is phenomenal with topics on music technology, using technology to assist English Language Learners, Google Apps, Virtual Worlds, and many other uses of hardware, software, web 2.0 applications and the concepts behind using them to improve teaching and learning in the classroom.

My session, This is Not Your Grandmother’s Google, is described in the program as:

It’s time to go beyond Google.com. Discover Google’s Wonder Wheel, Similar Images, Insights for Search, Custom Search Engines, and Language Tools and learn how to find resources effectively and efficiently.

Click to view on Slideshare.net

Many of the resources I will be sharing during our session:

Of course it always depends on who attends, what questions are asked and what our needs are. We’ll be using the hashtag #NJECC tomorrow if you would like to follow the conference. I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar faces there and having the chance to make the acquaintance of some NJ educators that I have not yet had the chance to meet.

Sweet Searching with Google

There are so many search tools available in Google that this past August when I presented at the Google Teacher Academy in Boulder, Colorado, I named my presentation “Google Search: At A Mile A Minute”. I spoke as fast as I could and showed as much as I could in the 30 minutes I was allotted.

But, I have to tell you that it’s tough to stay on top of all the options that Google comes out with for Search. It is worth the effort though.

Today at the monthly NJECC meeting, Samantha Morra, Sarah Rolle, Liz Bagish and I will be presenting part 1 of a 2 part series on Google Apps to our organization. We are all Google Certified Teachers, so we divided up the topics we wanted to cover and I chose Google Search.

This is the list of Search features I’ll be demonstrating and why I chose these specifically. (Bear in mind that I only have about 25 minutes.)

Google Show Options – We’ll be talking about addressing all learners and looking in information in different formats.

Wonder Wheel

Timeline

Also along these lines we’ll look at Google Squared.

I’d also like the group to know that their schools can import their entire libraries into Google Books and what information they can see about each book there. I’ll focus on:

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Searching the Book
  3. Popular Passages
  4. Book Reviews
  5. References from other Books
  6. References from Scholarly Works

This will lead nicely into Scholar Search which we’ll touch on briefly. (Well, everything will be brief, right?)

We’ll cover that Google Scholar searches:

  • Reputable articles
  • Journals
  • Books

We’ll also make clear that Google Scholar does not search:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Popular websites

I wanted to show the NEW Google Image Swirl and I will when I show everyone some advanced Image Search strategies including Similar Images, usage rights and searching by color, picture size and style.

We’ll look at Insights for Search and what the trending topics are for New Jersey for the last 30 days. We’ll talk about how students can compare this information to other parts of the U.S. and other countries.

Lastly, we’ll make sure that people know how to be alerted to any information that is important to them using Google Alerts. I will demonstrate to benefit of Google Alerts and suggest them for your school, district, people you know (like relatives), yourself and topics you are interested in.

I’m hoping everyone is able to learn a few new search techniques. Everyone has their own style, so not every tool I show them will necessarily meet their needs or the needs of the students in their classrooms. And I know I’m leaving so many great search tools out. But I only have 25 minutes. 🙂

NJECC’s Digital Learning Institute

Before we even pack our bags for NECC in Washington, D.C. there is some quality local professional development going on through the njecc.orgNew Jersey Educational Computing Cooperative.  NJECC is holding it’s annual Digital Learning Institute at the end of June.

This year is the first I have the pleasure of presenting. I’ll be there on Thursday, June 24, presenting two sessions:

#RA2 The Power of our Collective Intelligence: Building Online Learning Communities
#RP2 The Power of our Collective Intelligence: Social Bookmarking using Delicious.com

But the Institute runs three days. There’s quite a line-up. Here is just a sampling of what’s being offered:

Wednesday, June 24
iMovie ‘09
Intro to Creating Blogs
Google Cool Tools
InDesign
Web Publishing with iWeb

Thursday, June 25
Building Online Learning Communities with Twitter
Flickr for the Classroom
VoiceThread
Digital Music Lab for Beginners
GarageBand/iMovie
Power of Social Bookmarking using Delicious.com
Facebook for Educators

Friday, June 26
Google Earth
FLASH
Animated Claymation Presentations
SCRATCH
iPhoto ‘09
Photo Story III

For more information and to register, please visit http://www.njecc.org/site/files/2009dliregbrochure.pdf

Using the Power of Twitter: Building Online Learning

Map of lthumann's relationships
Map of lthumann's relationships

I realize there are many amazing posts on the merits of using Twitter to develop a PLN. I also realize that there already exists dozens of collections of tools for making the most of Twitter. Yet, as I prepare for my presentation at NJECC‘s annual conference tomorrow, I am compelled to write one of my own.

Tomorrow, sometime after the lunch hour, I am presenting “Using the Power of Twitter: Building Online Learning” at NJECC’s 23rd Annual Conference. Here’s the session description:

“How can educators around the world use technology to connect, collaborate, teach, support and inspire each other? Collaborative Internet applications allow educators to create online communities that support their professional learning and relieve their isolation. In this session we will focus on the ways two social networking tools, Twitter and Classroom 2.0, can be harnessed to build a rich and powerful learning community. We will discuss tips and tricks to leverage the potential of these networks. We will provide resources to help attendees set up their own networks during and after the session. Finally, we will capitalize on the face to face connections within the workshop to further enrich our online learning community.”

There’s so much about Twitter that I won’t be able to share because I will want attendees to take advantage of the face-to-face networking time before they go off to develop their online learning networks. I thought I would mention some of the tools and topics I would have liked to discuss tomorrow here, so that anyone attending still has access to the information – all in one place – and of course to share with my PLN what I feel are valuable resources.

Twitter Memes and Hashtags:

Follow Friday
Each Friday, Twitter users suggests other Tweeters to follow. They end or begin their Tweet with #FollowFriday (An example.)

Gr8t Tweets for the month of March
Re-Tweet (RT) one great Tweet a day and include the hashtag #gr8t at the end.  All Gr8Tweets show up on the Grt8Tweets Wiki home page. Here’s a list of who’s participating. (Though I’m sure there are many, many more.)

Using Twitter Hashtags – This is a great explanation of what a Hashtag is and how they are used.

Ways to Build your Network:

Twitter4Teachers – An extensive list of educators on Twitter  – categorized by subject area / grade level
Who Should I Follow? – Find new Twitter Friends
Mr.Tweet – Discover great people relevant to your current needs

Searching for Tweets and Twitterers:
Twitter Search – Search by keyword, Hashtag or even Twitter ID
TweetScan – Searches Twitter and allows you to get e-mail updates
Tweetdeck – Group people together and have separate columns for @Replies, DMs, Groups and the public timeline

Cool Twitter Tools:

Tweet Wheel– allows you to visually discover which of your followers know each other.
Top Twitter Friends –  Including a list of your top 20 BFFs and suggestions of Twitterers to follow.

For discovering many more Twitter tools:

Top Twitter Tools for 2009
Twitter Fan Wiki

I know there are so many more tools and resources out there. Many folks in my PLN have created screencasts and video tutorials on how to use these tools and on the merits of using Twitter. They are all in my Social Bookmarks at http://delicious.com/lthumann/twitter or http://www.diigo.com/user/lthumann/twitter. I also bookmark anything related to Twitter to the Diigo Twitter Freaks Group. Please join us!

Engaging the 21st Century Student

Marc Prensky at NJECC 9/19/08
Marc Prensky at NJECC 9/19/08

I had the pleasure of listening to Marc Prensky present at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of NJECC yesterday.

If you remember, Mr. Prensky was not feeling well when he arrived at NJECC’s Annual Conference last March and had to be taken to the hospital. After he was feeling better, he graciously offered to come back and keynote the organizations anniversary celebration which was held in Montclair State University’s 7th floor Ballroom. We had a gorgeous view of the University campus.

Marc challenged the audience with four questions asking volunteers to take a turn at the microphone to make one-minute statements about each of the following questions.
1. Are today’s students different?
2. What should our students know?
3. How should we teach them?
4. Is technology in class a help or a curse?

After listening to the audience volunteers, Mr. Prensky told us that In order to answer the first question we must first ask ourselves: Are people shaped by their environment? The 21st Century environment is all about change. Since technology is moving so quickly, we have to learn to deal with change on a regular bases. We need to learn to deal with the speed and magnitude of change. We used to have a good handle on what was developmentally appropriate for students. As students have access to more technology, they are exposed to more information. Students come to school with a larger knowledge base than they used to, yet they are still emotionally only capable of handling so much. So change means that the nature of education is changing. Prensky showed the audience the “A Vision of Students Today” video from Kansas State University.

With regard to the second question, Mr. Prensky spoke of teaching students skills and not tools. He referred back to the speed of change we discussed in the first question. Our students will be better prepared for their future if they have skills since the tools become outdated so quickly. He listed the following skills as being important and that “curriculum deletion” might be an option at this point.

  1. Teach students how to follow their passions
  2. Teach students about knowing the right thing to do
  3. Teach them about getting it done
  4. Teach students about getting things done with others
  5. Teach them about doing it creatively
  6. And finally, teach students about constantly doing things better

He recommended reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R Covey and spent a minute talking about why the book was on the NY Times best Seller list and then really urged the audience to read it.

The third question was responded to with another question. Is the time of the lecture over? Marc spoke about “A New Paradigm for Learning” where kids are teaching themselves with the teacher’s guidance. Children are already doing this outside of the school day. He quoted Albert Einstein who said “I never try to teach my students anything. I only try to create an atmosphere in which they can learn.”

Finally, as Marc began his conclusion, he asked us about the fourth question. He said that technology does not support the current way we teach. (I’m sure he was referring to a certain part of the teaching population and not those of use who are student-centered visionaries teaching our students skills and not tools.)

The answer to the fourth question was to let our students fly with it. Let them do the work and our job is to evaluate it. They are the researchers when it comes to the technology, so there is no need for us to create anything, but give them the time to figure it out themselves. This is the model of teaching that we should be striving for from now on.

Lisa Thumann, Marc Prensky and Ned Davis
From Left to right: Lisa Thumann, Marc Prensky and Ned Davis

Many of us Twittered throughout the day. Sharing our thoughts, ideas and comments on Mr. Prensky’s remarks and I was very interested in my PLN’s @replies. I was reminded of the remarks that were made after Prensky’s sessions at BLC08 this past July.

I enjoyed listening to Marc Prensky yesterday. He gave me a lot of food for thought. Though I was Twittering, and taking notes in a Google Doc, and taking the occasional picture, I was playing close attention to what he had to say and to the response of the audience. Take a look at the Doc if you’d like. It also includes my notes from the afternoon session (I apologize for not neatening things up, but it’s Saturday and I have a pretty lengthy to-do list [see previous post].) I’d be happy to discuss any of the four questions with you in more detail here, on Twitter or face-to-face. Just remember, like most people, I have a case of selective listening. I heard what I wanted to hear, most likely.  I probably focused on writing  the parts I agreed with the most.